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Flexible Fountain Pen for Calligraphy

Fountain Pen for Calligraphy: Not all fountain pens are suitable for use in practicing calligraphy. Some fountain pens work better with certain styles of calligraphy. This post is focused on flexible fountain pens that is typically used in styles like Modern Calligraphy, Copperplate or Spencerian.

Practicing calligraphy with a dip pen and a bottle of ink is ideal but it is not always convenient when you are on the go. A good alternative would be to use a fountain pen with a flexible nib that somehow mimics an old fashioned nib.

Fountain Pen for Calligraphy

Most fountain pen manufacturers these days are cautious in labeling their fountain pen as flexible and even some advertise that the nibs are flexible but they do not cut the mustard. So to help you decide what fountain pen to purchase, I’ve decided to share a review of the flex fountain pens that we own.

Test Parameters:

– Point of comparison for hand writing pressure to flex the nib: soft to medium pressure
– Paper: Muji dotted notebook
– Fountain Pens: Vintage Waterman 92, Pilot FA 742, and Noodler’s Creaper Flex

Fountain Pen for Calligraphy

Vintage Fountain Pen (Waterman 92)

This pen was a present for Lex which I bought from sizer65 on eBay. I got good recommendations on where to buy vintage fountain pens online from the Singapore Fountain Pen Lovers page in Facebook. This group of fountain pen enthusiasts is very friendly and helpful so you may want to check out their page if you’re looking for fountain pen recommendations and reviews.

Guidelines for buying vintage fountain pens online:
– Look for pictures of writing samples that show line variation
– Look for terms like flexible, flex, super flex, or wet noodle
– It must be described as fully functional or restored
– Google and see if the pen really performs as described by the seller based on reviews by other owners
– Check the sellers feedback
– Check with the seller if the fountain pen requires soft pressure to make swells and hairlines
– Ask the seller questions when in doubt

It was reasonably priced however the line variation was not what I expected. I thought that it would produce the same line variation as the Pilot FA 742 or better, but it produced a thinner swell. The pressure required to create swells would be from soft to medium but the tricky part is in creating hairlines since the fountain pen required a light touch to maintain a thin and consistent hairline. I know this sounds contradictory but this pen is just a tad quirky.

Vintage Waterman 92 Summary:
– Flexible: Yes
– Likes: Good line variation
– Dislikes: Takes any ink however a medium pressure is required to make line variations
– Line Variation: Medium Swells and Thin Hairlines
– Pressure Required to create line variation: Medium pressure for swells and light pressure for hairlines
– Ink: Works with most fountain pen inks
– Price: $60-100
– Where to buy: Online or eBay (sizer65)

Pilot FA 742

I bought the Pilot FA 742 after some intensive research online. It is a great flex pen that is comparable to old fashioned nibs. It is pricey compared to other flex pens in the market but I think it is worth it.

The line variation I get from this pen is still the best compared to all other fountain pens that I’ve tried. This is my favorite fountain pen so far.

Pilot FA 742 Summary:
– Flexible: Yes
– Likes: Great line variation
– Dislikes: Picky with ink and railroads if you write in flex mode really fast
– Line Variation: Thick Swells and Thin Hairlines
– Pressure Required to create line variation: Soft
– Ink: Works best with Pilot inks
– Price: USD $190 or SGD $236++
– Where to buy: Online or local fountain pen shops (Fook Hing Trading)

Noodler’s Creaper Flex

 We were so excited to get the Noodler’s Creaper Flex since it was the cheapest flex pen with good online reviews. The pen requires heavy pressure to make it flex. Lex can easily make the pen flex but I struggle to make swells as I need to insert heavy pressure and only get minimal results. I must say that I am a bit disappointed with this pen

There are some folks here in Singapore, like Urner Hoo, who provide nib grinding services to make nibs more flexible. He sells modified Noodler’s Ahab pens at $80.

Noodler’s Creaper Flex – Original

– Flexible: Yes
– Likes: Ok line variation and great value for the price
– Dislikes: Required heavy pressure to write in flex mode. Ladies may have a hard time making this pen flex as opposed to the Gents.
– Line Variation: Small to Medium Swells and Thin Hairlines
– Pressure Required to create line variation: Medium to hard pressure for swells and light pressure for hairlines
– Ink: Works with most fountain pen inks
– Price: $20
– Where to buy: Online (Goulet Pens)

Updated on May 1, 2014
Sponsored Section: Urner’s Modified Noodler’s Creaper Flex Pen

I got a Noodler’s Creaper Flex from Urner. I was excited to try the ground-down nib and see how it compares to the original pen. My original complaint was that the unmodified pen is hard and difficult to flex making it harder to practice calligraphy.

Modified (Orange Ink) vs. Unmodified (Teal Ink) Noodler’s Creaper Flex

Below is a comparison on the performance of the modified and unmodified version of the pens.  You get a slightly thicker line with the modified version as opposed to the original pen but the big difference would be on how easy the modified pen is to flex.

Modified (Orange Ink) vs. Unmodified (Teal Ink)

The modified pen came loaded with Calli Ink which is a calligraphy ink and not a traditional fountain pen ink. It dried quickly as opposed to the other fountain pen inks that I used before. It could have something to do with the modified feed which had a small piece of tissue wedged-in to reduce ink flow but I’m not an expert on ink. I was told that the surface tension of Calli Ink (Orange color only) works well with this fountain pen and I’m glad to report that it does. Since this pen is a modified one, it would be best to get some guidance from Urner on what inks he recommends as it may not work as well with just any off the shelf product.

Noodler’s Creaper Flex – Urner’s Modified Nib
– Flexible: Yes
– Likes: Ok line variation and easy to flex as the nib is soft
– Dislikes: Since the pen is modified, you need to tune it to ensure a smooth flow. This does not faze us as we like to tinker with our fountain pens. You also need to be very conscious on how you hold the pen because if you use the wrong angle you may damage the nib over a period of time. This maybe overwhelming for first time fountain pen users, however Urner provides an instruction sheet and he will give you tips on how to use and maintain the pen when you pick it up. You can also message him if you have any aftercare questions or concerns.
– Line Variation: Small to Medium Swells and Thin Hairlines
– Pressure Required to create line variation: Light to Soft pressure for swells and light pressure for hairlines
– Ink: Works best with Calli Ink
– Price: $80
– Where to buy: Urner Hoo (Facebook Message)

Summary:

Overall, I think that the best pen is the Pilot 742 FA however it is pricey. Vintage pens would be the next best alternative but buying them is a bit troublesome and results do vary. The Noodler’s pen is the most affordable and if you don’t like how it flexes, you can always get it modified.

The original Noodler’s Creaper Flex is difficult to flex as it requires more pressure to make the tines part as opposed to the modified version which is very easy to flex however the modified pen requires more maintenance and care.

Stay tuned for my post on the Noodler’s Ahab and Platinum Cool Fountain Pens in the upcoming weeks. These pens are flex and may be used for calligraphy.